Two games, two points, two bonus rounds lost. All in all, it's not a bad start to Rebuild, Year 2.
The Islanders applied great 5-on-5 pressure for the first seven minutes or so. Then a Shean Donovan shot hit the netting above the glass, everyone stepped off the gas thinking there'd be a whistle, there wasn't a whistle, and the Senators scored on the ensuing scramble.
That rather minor bit of adversity seemed to disrupt the Islanders' 5-on-5 groove far more than it should have. The rest of the night they mostly relied on the power play to generate offense -- fortunately for them, they had four powerplays before the Senators got their first (in the last half of the third period).
But there were other bright spots. For one, the penalty kill bent but didn't break during the third period's critical moments. For another, the Islanders climbed back from a 2-0 deficit. Kyle Okposo -- at even strength -- turned Anton Volchenkov inside-out and upside-down to get a shot and slam in his own rebound for the Islanders first goal. The equalizer came on their best powerplay of the night, with the Islanders probing the Sens' PK, rotating, moving around, with Weight finally dropping down low with the puck and feeding Matt Moulson right in the goalmouth.
That was the preseason script right there: Mark Streit and Weight manning the powerplay points, Moulson doing dirty work and taking pressure off John Tavares, while Okposo and Tavares do the flashy stuff.
Then there's the matter of Martin Biron, in his regular season debut.
In a sense, Biron kept the Islanders in this game. He made some big saves -- the 3rd-period PK doorstep stop on Alexei Kovalev being the best -- and gave you the confidence that the Islanders could climb back from the 2-0 deficit, which was built on flukey goals.
But then there were the goals. The Senators' second goal, from Matt Carkner, was banked off Biron's stick from behind the net. The OT goal was the real killer, though. A possible 3-on-2 rush that receded to just a 2-on-2, and Mike Fisher ripped it far side under Biron's arm. It was a hard, uncontested shot, but it's one you still hope doesn't go through in a big moment.
The critic would say such is the Biron Experience: Lots of solid and sometimes spectacular play, interrupted by moments of head-scratching. We'll see. I'm by no means alarmed -- Biron is as even keel as they come, and his work thus far still instills more confidence than the unproven netminders the Isles had last year. But it was worth noting.
This & That
- Rob Schremp made his presence known early by generating a few chances during that promising early stretch of 5-on-5. After that, not so much until he took a bad retaliatory penalty for elbowing Jarkkuu Weeaseel Ruuttuu. Josh Bailey wasn't terribly noticeable on that line, though Trent Hunter was.
- Tavares was absolutely leveled by Volchenkov while trying to pull up skating down the right side. He pulled up right into Volchenkov's salivating shoulder. Hard, clean hit -- and hopefully an early lesson.
- Sean Bergenheim did his damndest to create something from the third line. I can't help thinking his best role is on the top-six, but I'm not sure if opportunity and talent will mix at the right time to make that happen.
- Knock on wood and all that, but we're two games in and yet to have a blueline injury, right?
- Kyle Okposo is really, really freaking good.